Some years ago, when I was just a high school youngin’, my family gathered around my dinner table for Sunday dinner. We always keep the TV on to watch the finish of the late football game, and after it always comes “60 Minutes”. Something on “60 Minutes” that night captured my attention, and it was the image of a man climbing cliffs with no ropes or harnesses attached. After watching the video about free soloing from the past week, I thought “I’ve seen this before”, so I looked up the man in the video and it was the same man from 60 Minutes, Alex Honnold.
As you may assume, this feat was even more crazy the second time. The strength, precision, and endurance it takes to do what this man does is incredible. In Caesar’s “It’s More Like a Suicide Than a Sport”, he describes yet another incredibly dangerous maneuver, wingsuit base jumping. This article goes into detail about the death of Herve Le Gallou, a famous basejumper who passed away after a dangerous jump lead to a fatal crash. So you’re probably thinking one thing, these guys must be crazy right?
Actually, on the contrary. In “IMLaSTaS”, Caesar explains that due to the calculated nature of BASE jumping, it appeals to more people with solid, steady professions than adrenaline junkies because of its necessity for exactitude. Certain wing maneuvers must be made and parachutes must be pulled at exactly correct times -within the millisecond- for a jump to be successful. In Honnold’s case, he must plot out his exact hand and footholds before every free-solo climb. He must stay patient at all times to control his muscles correctly.
Now, you may say, “Wow these guys really are adrenaline junkies”, but you would be wrong. As Caesar explains, if you have any feeling other than that you are in control of your actions, you are not prepared for the jump. The feelings of “Yes”, “Fear” and “No” play a big role in their decision to jump. As Caesar explains, “Yes” means full confidence in your jump, your skills and your surroundings. “Fear” obviously, means that you are scared of what might happen, and “No” means something is off in your environment, making you feel uncomfortable enough to not do it. Caesar then explains that “the difficulty is discerning “Fear” from “No” because they’re both telling you the same thing”.
Honnold feels these feelings as well. As explained in his “60 Minutes” interview, the crew planned to film him scaling a wall, and had set up six cameras along the wall with professional climbers to capture it. Alex realized this was not natural for him, so instead he went and climbed another mountain, an incredibly difficult one at that, to “calm his nerves”. Something told him not to let “60 Minutes” film his climb that day. The interviewer asked him how big of an adrenaline rush it must be being on the mountain, and he responded by saying “there’s no adrenaline; if there’s adrenaline that means something’s wrong”.
Climbing and BASE jumping may not be the sports we accept them to be. They seem like flimsy, fun-loving activities that only crazy people would participate in. However, these athletes need to be most calm of anyone. It may seem like suicide, but really it requires some of the best athletes in the world.